This week is National Wildlife Refuge Week, a time to celebrate these wild and beautiful public lands. The stated mission of the National Wildlife Refuge System (NWRS) is to conserve land and water for the sake of “biological integrity, diversity, and environmental health.” These spaces are intended as sanctuaries where wildlife can thrive and all Americans can enjoy our great outdoors. Shockingly, however, more than half of all refuges allow the use of inhumane and dangerous traps. This is a clear violation of the NWRS’ mission and is a threat to the safety of wildlife, humans, and pets.
The Refuge from Cruel Trapping Act, sponsored by Representative Nita Lowey (D-NY) in the House and just reintroduced by Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) in the Senate, would prohibit the possession or use of body-gripping traps within the NWRS. This bill would ensure that management of these protected lands aligns with the intent behind their preservation.
Body-gripping traps—such as snares, Conibear traps, and steel-jaw leghold traps—are inhumane and inherently nonselective, meaning they indiscriminately injure and kill nontarget animals, including endangered and threatened species and even pets. According to the US Fish and Wildlife Service, nontarget species trapped on refuges include river otters, rabbits, domestic dogs and cats, and birds.
The city of Maumelle, Arkansas, has reportedly decided to trap and kill coyotes with the misguided intent to control species numbers. A contractor hired by the city has reportedly set 10 steel-jaw and snare traps throughout the city, and victims will be killed. But lethal initiatives are 100 percent ineffective, as survivors simply breed in order to replace lost pack members while more coyotes move in from outlying areas for the available resources. And amazingly, news sources indicate that city officials are touting these traps as “humane”! However, animals caught in these traps (including the padded or rubber-coated variety) sustain horrific injuries in their frantic attempts to escape—even chewing or twisting off their own limbs. Killing also tears wild families apart, leaving orphaned young to starve, and traps endanger companion animals as well as protected wildlife. PETA has apprised Maumelle officials of the cruelty and futility of this plan and provided details regarding humane coyote control, but now it’s your turn.
Please contact the Maumelle mayor and city council and politely urge them to reverse this decision. Then forward this alert to everyone you know.
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A grizzly bear has been photographed on the loose near the top of Togwotee Pass with a Conibear-style furbearer trap clamped to its paw.
While it’s unknown how long the bruin has been hobbled by the steel contraption, a photograph of the bear was passed along to Wyoming Game and Fish on May 31.
Moran resident and videographer Jim Laybourn is one person who has viewed the image of the caught bear, having run into a Dubois couple shortly after they snapped the photo.
“It’s firmly attached, most of the way up its paw, and there’s no way that it’s going to get it off,” Laybourn said. “It’s really disgusting to think about that animal struggling with the trap. It’s going to be a tough existence.”
Dan Thompson, Game and Fish’s large carnivore supervisor, was more optimistic that the grizzly would be able to free itself.
“I think there’s a high likelihood that the bear has since removed that trap, because it was a smaller trap,” Thompson said. “As strong as bears are, I would expect a grizzly to be able to remove it, I would think.”
Game and Fish personnel are monitoring the situation “vigilantly,” he said, but they have not laid eyes on the animal. If it is located, the bear will be immobilized and the trap removed.
The Dubois residents who photographed and reported the trapped bear, rumored to be a boar, declined to be interviewed for this story when reached through their employers at Jackson Hole Airport.
The couple, Laybourn said, were shaken up.
“I could tell by their reaction that it was really emotional for them,” he said. “They felt horrible about that bear, and I imagine I would, too.”
The Conibear trap observed on the grizzly’s paw is a quick-kill device that typically is used to trap beavers, muskrats and pine marten — all species that are not in season in Wyoming. Trapping of species classified as predators, such as red fox and coyote, is allowed throughout the year.
Employees of Wyoming Untrapped, a group that advocates for trapping reform, said the incident is evidence of the need for trapping bans in grizzly country.
“It’s frustrating that an endangered species has been caught and now we can’t find it,” said Kristin Combs, Wyoming Untrapped’s program director.
“It’s an example of why trapping is so indiscriminate and doesn’t have a place in modern wildlife management,” she said. “Now there’s a poor grizzly bear out there with a trap on its paw.”
If SB236 passes in this committee, it will go before the whole Montana House of Representatives. In order for SB236 to get on the ballot as a constitutional amendment, Senator Fielder will now need 70 of the 100 Representatives to vote for it.
SB236 reads as follows:
THE CITIZENS OF MONTANA HAVE THE RIGHT TO HUNT, FISH, TRAP, AND HARVEST WILD FISH AND WILDLIFE, INCLUDING THE USE OF CUSTOMARY MEANS AND METHODS. HUNTING, FISHING, AND TRAPPING BY CITIZENS IS THE PREFERRED MANNER OF MANAGING WILD FISH AND WILDLIFE AND IS SUBJECT TO NECESSARY AND PROPER MANAGEMENT AND CONSERVATION STATUTES ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE AND REGULATORY AUTHORITY DELEGATED BY THE LEGISLATURE TO A DESIGNATED PUBLIC AGENCY OR COMMISSION. THE RIGHT TO HARVEST WILD FISH AND WILDLIFE IS A HERITAGE THAT SHALL FOREVER BE PRESERVED TO THE INDIVIDUAL CITIZENS OF THE STATE AND DOES NOT CREATE A RIGHT TO TRESPASS ON PRIVATE PROPERTY OR A DIMINUTION OF OTHER PRIVATE RIGHTS.”
• Amending our constitution should not be taken lightly or rushed.
• The purpose of this bill is to enshrine trapping into our constitution. In 2004, we overwhelmingly voted to add to our Montana constitution the opportunity to preserve hunting and fishing forever more.
• Requiring the preferred method for wildlife management to be hunting, fishing and trapping shuts out the non-consumptive wildlife user. Wildlife watching is a significant financial contributor to our economy from residents and visitors, alike.
• The bill negates respectful coexistence, implementation of preventative non-lethal management tools and the intrinsic value and management needs for ALL wildlife.
• The goal of this bill is to eliminate any wildlife ballot initiatives and put the legislature in charge of wildlife and for them to determine who then manages wildlife.
• The intent of this bill is to put wildlife management further into the secreted hands of trappers rather than Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks biologists.
• The motivation of this bill is consistent to Senator’s Fielder’s position on seizing control of our public lands.
Like Senator Fielder and her allie’s goal for our public lands, the goal of SB236 is not for the greater good or for wildlife. It’s for the control, personal gain and exploitation of them both.
Trapping uses lures, bait and takes advantage of animal’s basic needs for shelter, water, territory. In the same vein, SB236 attempts to lure supporters in.
Those that oppose are criticized including Democrats, our Governor and the wildlife managing agency, FWP. Regarding the Senate vote on SB236:
“I think they were under orders not to vote for it. Orders probably coming out of the governor’s office because his office and Montana Fish Wildlife and parks are lobbying hard against it to keep this issue from coming before the voters.” ~ Senator Fielder
For the record, 2 Republicans voted against SB236 in the Senate. We thank them and all who did, for whatever reasoning, they were right to do so!
Brooks Fahy has been working for decades to save wild animals from painful traps — and while he has seen hundreds of sad cases, there’s one coyote he’ll never forget.
Fahy, who is the executive director of the nonprofit Predator Defense, received a call from a concerned citizen about an animal caught in a trap. After scouring the Oregon woods, he found the young coyote — his leg was badly pinched in a leghold trap.
Brooks Fahy/Predator Defense
“When I walked up on that coyote, he looked at me and then he looked down, like he was ready to accept his fate,” Fahy told The Dodo.
Animals caught in traps can wait days before they’re found and killed — sometimes for their meat or fur, other times just for recreation. Some animals caught in traps try to gnaw off their own limbs out of desperation. “Traps are notoriously nonselective, whether it’s an M44, a neck snare, a leghold trap, any animal that comes along could get caught,” Fahy said. Endangered species and even people’s beloved dogs can be injured or even killed because of indiscriminate traps.
The trap was set out by Wildlife Services, a branch of the USDA that kills tens of thousands of coyotes each year by trapping, shooting, snaring and poisoning them.
Warning: Graphic image below
The coyote Fahy found seemed to be determined to stay alive. There were some puddles of melted snow near him, which he appeared to have been drinking from, Fahy said: “He had been in the trap a long time, a week minimum.”
Fahy also noticed a branch sticking up out of the ground beside him that was all chewed up.
“He’d been gnawing on it to relieve the pain,” Fahy said.
As Fahy got closer, he noticed paw prints in the ground and the vestiges of smaller animals. “There were these small bones around him — we realized that a mate was bringing him food,” Fahy remembers. “It’s gut-wrenching. It haunts me to this day.”
Fahy did everything he could to save the 2-year-old coyote’s life. Except for his terrible injury, he appeared healthy. “He was in his prime,” Fahy said.
But the coyote’s foot was completely ruined — the bones were jutting out through his skin. And the animal appeared to be exhausted from trying to survive. “When I picked him up and wrapped him in a blanket, I felt him completely relax in my arms,” Fahy said. “He had nothing left.”
Brooks Fahy/Predator Defense
Fahy carried the young coyote a mile to his truck and then drove him to see a veterinarian. Sadly, the coyote was just in too much pain, so Brooks held him while the veterinarian euthanized him with an injection.
“I’ve dealt with hundreds of trapping cases. I’ve seen animals who have lost their teeth because they’re gnawing so hard on the trap, I’ve seen it all,” Brooks said. “But I think of this coyote every day.”
Fahy holds the coyote as he’s being euthanized.Brooks Fahy/Predator Defense
This coyote died in 1992. “Virtually nothing has changed,” Fahy said. “If anything, it’s gotten worse.”
Hundreds of thousands of coyotes like him have been killed since then, many of them by these painful traps. In 2016 alone, Wildlife Services killed 76,963 adult coyotes; over 19,000 of them were killed by leghold traps, foothold traps, leg snares and neck snares. And that doesn’t even count how many coyotes and other animals were killed through trapping by private citizens.
“The brutality of these traps cannot be overstated,” Adam M. Roberts, CEO of Born Free USA, said in a statement. “Steel-jaw leghold traps and Conibear traps slam shut with bone-crushing force, causing massive injury and trauma. Animals trapped in strangulation neck snares — designed to tighten around an animal’s neck as he or she struggles — also suffer in extreme agony for an unconscionable amount of time.”
“Steel-jaw leghold traps, snares, and Conibear traps can cause massive pain, injury and even death to anyone who crosses its path,” Jennifer Place, a program associate at Born Free USA who specializes in trapping issues, told The Dodo. “We have seen it happen too many times: a mountain lion cub caught in a leghold trap; a dog who breaks her teeth to the gum line in her panic to free herself from a trap; a boy rushed to the ER with a Conibear trap on his arm; a young man getting ensnared in a Conibear trap set near a park playground. These traps are cruel, archaic and terrifyingly indiscriminate, and they can be found anywhere.”
There are bills in the U.S. House of Representatives that could finally put some limits on trapping, Place added, like the Refuge from Cruel Trapping Act (H.R. 1438), which seeks to ban leghold traps and body traps in national wildlife refuges. “It is time to stop the further spread and use of these brutal devices,” she said.
People who have been fighting trapping for years are hopeful that some of the suffering could soon come to an end — but the public needs to know about what’s going on and to speak up for these animals.
“I’ve been doing this work for 40 years and I never cease to be amazed that this is still going on,” Fahy said. “We know through science that these species are self-regulating. It’s time we evolve as a society and stop thinking of animals as natural resources. It’s important for us to empathize with these animals, to feel the loneliness of an animal caught in a trap. They feel pain. They suffer. They want to live.”
A three-year-old Labrador retriever died and a 14-year boy was knocked to the ground when a cyanide device deployed by the federal government exploded in Pocatello, Idaho.
The Idaho State Journal reported the boy, who had been on a walk with his dog Thursday on a ridge near their home, watched his dog die. According to the Bannock County Sheriff’s Office, the boy was also “covered in an unknown substance” when the device known as an M-44 detonated. He was evaluated at a hospital and released.
“That little boy is lucky,” Sheriff Lorin Nielsen told the Pocatello newspaper. “His guardian angel was protecting him.”
The Idaho incident comes a few weeks after a gray wolf was accidentally killed by an M-44 on private land in Oregon’s Wallowa County. The controversial type of trap is used by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services crews around the country primarily to kill coyotes and other predators.
U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., introduced legislation as recently as 2012 to ban the trap.
DeFazio has said he would reintroduce a similar bill in Congress.
The wolf death was the first documented “incidental take” of its kind in Oregon involving the protected animal and the M-44, fish and wildlife officials said.
Federal Wildlife Services officials said there were 96 M-44 devices dispersed across Oregon as of last week and the agency was looking to remove devices that were near known wolf habitat. Oregon fish and wildlife officials have said the devices were not allowed in areas of known wolf activity.
A gray wolf was killed on private land in Wallowa County by a controversial cyanide device used by the U.S. Department of Agriculture
Oregon has long paid Wildlife Services to kill invasive species and specific predators. But Gov. Kate Brown’s’ recommended budget doesn’t include $460,000 typically set aside to pay the federal agency to kill animals in Oregon.
Bannock County officials described the device as “extremely dangerous to animals and humans.”
The department circulated photos of the trap. “If a device such as this is ever located please do not touch or go near the device and contact your local law enforcement agency,” officials said.
Government officials have said the number of deaths of domestic animals and non-target animals each year is low, and officials say they are conducting an “internal review” of the wolf death.
Wildlife Services killed 121 coyotes in Oregon in 2016 with M-44 devices, along with three red foxes, according to the government’s figures. No gray wolf was killed in the U.S. last year with the cyanide capsules, according to the government.
A Eugene nonprofit says the government isn’t being truthful about the number of pets and non-target animals – such as wolves – killed each year.
“Yesterday’s Idaho poisoning of a dog and the near poisoning of a child is yet another example of what we’ve been saying for decades: M-44s are really nothing more than land mines waiting to go off, no matter if it’s a child, a dog, or a wolf,” Brooks Fahy, executive director of Predator Defense, said in a statement.
“It’s time to ban these notoriously dangerous devices on all lands across the United States.”
Your immediate action is needed to stop Montana Senate Bill 236 that will make trapping permanently protected in our Montana Constitution
A public Committee hearing on Senate Bill SB236 will be held this Thursday, 2/16.
Our hope is to kill SB236 in Committee by urging Committee members to vote against the bill.
If the Committee passes SB236, the bill will go to the full Senate for a vote, after which it will need approval from 2/3 of the legislature to send it to the Montana voters in 2018 to change the MT Constitution.
Trappers have unlimited out-of-state funds to sway voters during a campaign. We can’t let that happen.
How to Help:
Testify in person against SB236 in the Senate Fish & Game Committee.
We need as many anti-trapping people in the Committee chamber as possible.
Please let us know if you can be at the hearing (Th, 3PM, Capitol Bldg. Rm. 422).
We will provide pointers on how to testify effectively.
We may be able to arrange carpooling.
Email Senators on the Committee and urge them to VOTE NO on SB236.
Use links and reasons to VOTE NO provided below.
Please let us know whom you have emailed so we can track feedback given to the Committee.
If possible, please forward copies of your emails to us.
Call Senators on the Committee and urge them to VOTE NO on SB236.
Please let us know whom you have called so we can track feedback given to the Committee.
Call the Capitol receptionist (406-444-4800) and ask that they tell each member of the Senate Fish & Game Committee to VOTE NO on SB236.
Share this information with others who want to prevent enshrining trapping in the MT Constitution.
TALKING POINTS to help your testimony and messages. Select one or two points and personalize your message to be most effective.
1. Hunting and fishing are already protected in the Constitution. This repetitive amendment clutters the Constitution with detailed activities. We can’t add and don’t need amendments to protect each and every type of sport or employment.
2. Trapping is managed as recreation. Why not just resolve to protect recreation in MT rather than mess with the Constitution? This was suggested in South Dakota when legislators killed a similar bill.
3. Trapping does not provide “life’s basic necessities.” Trappers made a profit of $56,000 last season and reported harvesting more than 50,000 animals. That makes trapping a net loss with the associated costs of gas and equipment. A handful of people in Montana pursue trapping for their livelihood. In fact, trappers resist a mandatory trap-check time because they have jobs.
4. Enshrining trapping in the Constitution can severely harm the state’s economy. Lynx, wolverine, fishers and pine martens are severely depleted species, largely due to trapping. Lynx are already on the endangered list, soon to be followed by wolverine and fishers. This type of listing shuts down industry on our public lands. Timber projects have been halted in the Gallatin, Kootenai and Custer National Forests to protect the endangered lynx.
PLEASE TAKE ACTION ON THIS BILL. WE CANNOT LET TRAPPING BECOME A PERMANENT FEATURE OF MONTANA, HARMING OUR WILDLIFE, OUR SAFETY, ECONOMY AND REPUTATION. THANK YOU!
They are a ubiquitous and often an irksome part of suburban life in New Jersey, known for carrying rabies and tearing through garbage.
Now raccoons are at the center of a legal battle between animal rights activists and state regulators, one that may soon head to the New Jersey Supreme Court.
At issue is a Christie administration policy that allows the use of a controversial trap that led to the capture and killing of thousands of raccoons by fur trappers earlier this year.
The case hinges on whether “enclosed foothold traps” approved for use last year by the New Jersey Fish and Game Council are similar enough to steel-jaw traps that were banned 32 years ago by lawmakers because they were considered “inhumane and cruel.”
The new traps will be used again when raccoon season begins on Tuesday after an appellate panel sided with Fish and Game last month, saying there was a enough of a difference in the two traps to uphold the policy. A coalition of animal rights and environmental groups will appeal the decision to the state high court this month, their lawyer said.
The traps are very effective. Used for the first time during the previous raccoon trapping season from last November through this past March, the traps helped catch 12,600 raccoons — a 77 percent increase from the year before and the most in 25 years, according to state trapping data.
Enclosed foothold traps act similar to a mouse trap with a steel bar in a baited, two-inch-wide cylinder snapping down on a raccoon or opossums’ paw.
Opponents say they are essentially the same as the illegal jaw traps because they are excruciatingly painful to the animals that are caught in them.
“These traps snap on the animal just like the old ones did, and they suffer for days until the trapper comes around,” said Dante DiPirro, a lawyer representing the coalition.
“It causes the same exact kind of cruelty that the legislation intended to prohibit.”
No threat to dogs
Supporters of the trapping policy say the devices are more humane than the steel-jaw traps and are small enough to prevent dogs from being caught. They also argue that it will help contain a growing raccoon population.
“We are the most densely populated state, and we have some of the most densely populated pockets of wildlife,” said Ed Markowski, legislative coordinator for the New Jersey Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs.
“When you put those together, you have a chance of some unpopular interactions.”
Animal rights and environmental groups have said policies like the raccoon traps and Governor Christie’s expansion of the black bear hunt this year are a capitulation to small, special interest groups whose activities are wildly out of character with an increasingly suburban state.
Hunting licenses, meanwhile, have dropped precipitously almost every year from a high of 186,774 in 1971, to 34,679 in 2015. Trapping licenses went from a high of 4,406 in 1980, to a low of 454 in 1992, but have slowly increased to 1,405 this year.
The raw-pelt value of all the raccoons caught during the 2012-13 season was $96,675 based on reported fur sales, according to a state report.
Still, state officials have argued that trapping is important to the state economy.
There is an “economic ripple effect” because trappers buy traps, supplies, gasoline, clothing, said Larry Hajna, a spokesman for the state Department of Environmental Protection, which oversees the council.
Trappers say their activities are more than just a money-making venture, where pelts sell for about $15 each.
They are preserving a heritage, they say, that goes back to the earliest days of North American settlements and is often passed down through generations.
Markowski of the sportsmen’s club federation said there is an important public health element to trapping: The raccoon population needs to be controlled to prevent the threat of rabies.
Indeed, raccoons account for 77 percent of animals diagnosed with rabies, according to the state Department of Health. And there have been some well-publicized attacks this year by rabid raccoons, including one involving a 6-year-old Elmwood Park boy in January and another on a 76-year-old Boonton man in July.
But the last time a human contracted rabies in New Jersey was 1997, said Donna Leusner, a health department spokeswoman. And that was from a bat. It was the first human case of rabies since 1971.
Definition of ‘jaws’
While the economic and health implications were mentioned in the appellate decision, the ruling came down to essentially what constitutes a banned jaw trap.
The three-judge panel said the new traps “are made of steel, but they do not operate as ‘jaws,’ having only one part that moves to ensnare the animal when the animal pulls on a lever with its paw.”
Like their fight to have a court overturn the bear hunt four years ago, animal rights groups have a high burden to challenge the trap ruling. The panel’s decision noted that the state Supreme Court has ruled that an agency’s determination must be upheld unless “it is plainly demonstrated to be arbitrary.”
Because of this the New Jersey Sierra Club is also pressing the Senate to pass a bill that would essentially ban the newer traps. The Assembly passed an identical bill overwhelmingly last month, but it has not gotten much traction in the Senate.
“It’s clear the citizens of New Jersey and the Legislature do not want these traps,” said DiPirro, the animal rights and environmental coalition lawyer. “The only way they could get away with this is to change the rules internally.”
Markowski said lawmakers should recognize that raccoons pose a constant threat to residents.